Equality and Diversity in Employment
This guidance has been produced by the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre at Durham University to support students and graduates. Our service is confidential and impartial.
The Equality Act 2010 protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of the following characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation.
Under The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the grounds of a spent criminal conviction. However, some types of jobs are exempt from this Act.
Students and graduates may have anxieties relating to these characteristics in respect of career planning, job searching and applications for employment, work experience and further study.
Our individual diversity guides include further information relevant to the protected characteristics and in addition, advice and further specialist links relating to offenders and disclosure of criminal records. You will also find guides to ‘discrimination’ and ‘identifying diversity-friendly and inclusive employers’. Use these resources to access further information specific to your individual circumstances, learn about employer initiatives and relevant support groups, activities, events and employment opportunities that may be of interest to you.
Applications – self marketing and disclosure
The typical stages of recruitment and selection for vacation schemes, internships, placements and graduate opportunities can comprise of any or all of the following:
- Covering letter
- Application form
- Interview (face-to-face, telephone, digital – video/Skype)
- Psychometric tests
- Assessment centre
You are not obliged to disclose personal information relating to the protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010 (e.g. age, sexual orientation, religion and belief). There are limited exceptions in respect of an employer being permitted to ask such questions within their recruitment and selection processes – see gov.uk for more information. Prospects also provides useful guidance on disclosure of personal information and writing a successful job application.
Whatever your background or personal situation, the key to making an effective application is to demonstrate your individual skills, experience, knowledge and capabilities relevant to the role and organisation.
You may have concerns in respect of disclosing personal information in your applications e.g. by indirectly referring to your religion or beliefs by mentioning your involvement in a particular network, initiative or society. However, these activities may have given you additional skills and experiences that you may wish to promote to a prospective employer. Cross-cultural awareness, language skills and the ability to engage effectively with people from diverse backgrounds, regardless of e.g. age, sexual orientation, race or belief, can be vital in today’s global workplace.
If you require further advice and guidance on any issues you may face or concerns you may have, including how to disclose personal information and access individual support appropriate to your needs, you can book an appointment with a Careers Adviser, using the Student Services portal at www.durham.ac.uk/careers.
Employers promote their individual diversity messages on their websites, at campus and external events and within national and regional initiatives. In addition, the Durham Students’ Union holds equality and diversity events each year. They also have a Community Officer dedicated to promoting health and well-being and equality and diversity across the student body.
- Equality and Diversity Help Sheet (last modified: 28 September 2017)